Super Tuesday will not be the end all, be all in the 2012 Republican Primary, but it is a huge day for building or stopping momentum.
Ten states are voting in primaries and caucuses from coast to coast. 410 delegates are on the line and with former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney entering the night with a delegate lead, it could be a big opportunity for him to dramatically increase that advantage. It is also a night where Newt Gingrinch can get back into the conversation with a southern resurgence. It could be a night for Rick Santorum to stop Romney's rise in its tracks. Ron Paul is hoping to secure his first out right win in a caucus state.
Here is your CYR user guide to tonight's big event:
What states are voting (delegates on the line)?
North Dakota (25)
Who are the favorites in each state?
Romney is expected to easily carry Virginia, Massachusetts, Idaho and Vermont. He has a fair shot in Alaska and North Dakota, but Ron Paul will be a major factor in both. Paul could compete in Idaho as well.
Gingrinch is expected to win Georgia, but the margin will matter. He wants a huge landslide win to propel him into upcoming Southern state primaries.
Santorum is the odds on favorite in Oklahoma and a slight favorite in Tennessee, though recent polling would suggest Tennessee is a true toss up.
Ohio is the big prize of the night. It is a two man race in Ohio between Romney and Santorum.
What does this night mean for each candidate?
This could be a very good night for Romeny, but he needs big margins in the states he wins to be convincing. He wants Ohio and would love to steal Tennessee. Wins in those states could propel him to winning 8 of the 10 contests tonight. That would be a huge night for Romney, putting him in the delegate driver's seat and starting the talk of inevitability.
Losses in Ohio and Tennesee combined with narrow victory margins elsewhere and a Gingrich romp in Georgia will only further add to the perception that Romney can not win conservatives and can not unite the party.This will guarantee a primary season that goes to June.
Needs a win in Ohio to have a good night. Oklahoma and Tennessee are also Santorum prizes. He is hoping to place second in Georgia and all the other contests that he fails to win. He wants to rack up delegates by finishing close to Romney in any state where Romney wins. Further, he wants a solid win in Ohio to show his swing state appeal. Santorum has proven he can accomplish a lot with very little money, so he just needs to survive Tuesday with a respectable showing and he can carry on into at least late April.
He wants a crushing victory in Georgia. He is dissappointed in his Tennessee performance in the polls, but if he can essentially force a 3 way Tennessee tie, it will be a good night. Gingrinch is looking to begin a rebound on Tuesday that will allow him to keep winning southern states until Texas votes on April 3rd. Texas is his Alamo. A loss there, will eliminate his chances of being a major factor past the beginning of April.
Alaska, Idaho, Vermont, Virginia and North Dakota are the states to watch if you are a Paul supporter. Paul will be competitive in 4 of those 5 states and he might even win one or more. Virginia is a test of the anti-Romney vote. Only Romney and Paul are on the ballot in that state since Gingrich and Santorum failed to qualify. Paul will not win Virigina and since anyone who gets 50% or more of the vote wins all the delegates, there is little use for Paul to campaign there. Still, 30 - 35% of the vote would be nice for his efforts and ding Romney's inevitability argument. It's all about delegates for the Texas Congressman so he will measure success by how many he racks up in one night.
It's Romney's night but the other 3 will perform well enough to continue on. Gingrich's Alamo is Texas on March 3rd. Santorum will need an upset somewhere if he loses Ohio, but he wants to survive into late April. Paul is in it to the end, so no use even discussing his withdrawal. His last stand is the Tampa convention.